Greece and Norway have announced the expulsion of a total of 15 Russian diplomats, becoming the latest European Union countries to order such expulsions amid increasing outrage over Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“Greek authorities have declared 12 members of diplomatic and consular missions of the Russian Federation accredited in Greece … as personae non gratae,” the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.
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Later on Wednesday, Norway also announced the expulsion of three Russian diplomats, saying the individuals conducted activities that were incompatible with their diplomatic status.
“It is not by chance that these expulsions take place now,” Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt said in a statement.
“They come at a time when the world is shocked by reports of Russian forces’ crimes against civilians, in particular in the town of Bucha outside Kyiv. In this situation we pay particular attention to unwanted Russian activities in Norway,” she said.
Coordinated moves by other countries saw more than 200 envoys and staff sent home in 48 hours earlier this week.
Germany and France announced about 75 expulsions between them on Monday. Countries including Italy, Spain and Denmark followed suit on Tuesday – while the European Union itself declared “persona non grata” a group of Russian officials working with its institutions.
Athens did not specifically mention the Ukraine conflict, but said its move came on Wednesday under the 1961 and 1963 Vienna conventions governing diplomatic and consular affairs.
The Greek foreign ministry said the Russian ambassador had been informed of the decision. No timeframe was given for the diplomats’ departure.
Though a traditional ally of Russia, bound by centuries of tradition and a shared Orthodox Christian faith, Greece has unequivocally condemned Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Athens has sent Kyiv humanitarian and lethal aid, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been invited to address the Greek parliament on Thursday.
Greece has also accused Russia of killing members of an ethnic Greek community, which has lived in the southeastern Mariupol region since the 18th century.